December 2011


by KT on December 29, 2011


Disclaimer: This is kind of a sad & personal post

Every Christmas season my mind goes back to the Christmas of 1998.  This was the Christmas that my grandparents were in a fatal car accident.  I was 16 years old and I had never had anyone very close to me pass away.  It was the first time that I truly had my faith tested.  It is what I consider the event that had me go from child to adult.  It was the first time I saw my parents as human and not as people who could handle anything, fix anything, support everyone.

On December 18, 1998 My grandparents were out for a early bird dinner in Sarasota, FL.  They were on their way back to Siesta Key when their wood paneled station wagon was struck on the drivers’ side by a drunk driver in a bronco.  My grandmother was killed instantly & my grandfather was airlifted to St. Petersburg hospital where he was on life support until January 13th. 

That Christmas we spent in Cincinnati at my grandmother’s funeral and held a prayer service for my grandfather.  We didn’t do presents that year.  Not because we made a family decision not to, but because my parents forgot it was Christmas.

 I drove down to St. Petersburg with my parents and sat in some of the worst traffic I can recall on I-95.  the ride and the visit were miserable.  I was the only grandchild who got to see my grandpa in the hospital.  I am both glad and terribly sad that I had that opportunity.  It took me years to not associate my grandfather with that hospital.

Over the past 13 years the pain doesn’t sting quite as much, but I am still sad.  I am disappointed that my grandparents never met my brother in law or REF.  I do think we’ve done a wonderful job of preserving their memory.

I am now able to realize that they lived amazing lives.  My grandfather had a very successful eye doctor practice in Cincinnati.  They had 4 children & 12 grandchildren.  They lived on their own  when they passed away and were still very active in their 80s.  They created many many memories for their family and passed down great traditions.  Their motto was “Eat well, Drink well and do all things in moderation”.  I think they lived that.






by KT on December 29, 2011

A couple of days ago it was grey and rainy when I was pulling out of the driveway on my way to work.  I always look at the exterior our house when I’m leaving to make sure everything looks “okay”.  As I was doing this a feeling of calm rushed over me.  I wanted to run back into my house, get under the covers and relish being HOME.  

As I drove to work I started to think about how it was a big deal for me to look at the house I share with REF as my home.  My parents don’t live in the house I grew up in.  They moved to a townhome community in the serious suburbs when I was in college.  Even though I don’t have memories of riding my bike on their new street I still spent several years “living” there.  I’m extremely close with my parents.  We eat dinner there every Sunday and it still feels like home to me, but somewhere in my first year of marriage I realized I no longer looked at my parents’ house as my home.  

I started to think about my friends who live far away from their parents and only get to visit once or twice a year.  Do they have that incredible sense of calm as they walk through their doors and climb into their bed after visiting the place that was once their home?

I guess for me home is where all of my family and friends are.  It is where REF is and where our sweet Winston is.  It is where I am reminded of my dad’s parents or where I am joking with my cousins.  It is at Camp Cheerio sitting on the roof of the dining hall looking at the stars.  It is in my front hall when I’m having a breakdown & my best friend is hugging me telling me it is going to be okay.  It is in my childhood church or at my high school.  I guess, even though I hate cliches, it is where the heart is.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Season and were able to be at home at some point.




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Let the Celebrations Begin!

by KT on December 22, 2011

Today I’ll be counting down the minutes to 5:00pm a little bit more then normal, because my college roommates will reunited tonight for our annual Holiday Extravaganza!  My friend, MTV & her husband JM who live in Denver, CO. have been in North Carolina all week visiting with MTV’s family.  I don’t get to see them that often so I’m glad to have them here.  Heck, I’m glad to just have them on EST.  It’s been great to text & video message without the fears of waking someone up!

L to R: MTV, ME, KM & SW

It is also JM’s birthday, so my fellow Charlottean, KM & I thought it would be fun to head to Pacos Tacos for dinner.

SW, MTV & JM will be spending the night so REF & I whipped up a breakfast casserole to serve on Friday morning.  REF also offered to run out to Sbux to make sure everyone had coffee in the morning.  

On Friday my office closes at 11:30 & we have a big pot lunch together.  Then we do a dirty santa exchange.  Typically I leave the office around 2:00.  I’m crossing my fingers that is the case this year too, because I have REF’s dad, step mother, sister, bother in law and niece coming over for dinner around 5:30 or 6:00.  I’m really excited that his dad and step mom were so flexible to come to Charlotte to celebrate Christmas with us.  We put in a lot of miles driving back & forth from Concord & this really might be the best Christmas present I’ll receive from them! 

REF’s sister, brother in law & niece are spending the night with use & then we are all heading up to Concord on Saturday morning to celebrate with REF’s mom, step dad and grandmother.  We’re going to do a Christmas Eve brunch so that REF and I can make it back to Charlotte in time for Christmas Eve mass with my parents.

REF, Winston and I will be enjoying some alone time on Christmas Eve night & early Christmas morning. We plan to open 1 present on Christmas Eve together.  On Christmas morning we’re going to head to my parents for breakfast around 10 or so.  We still haven’t decided if we’ll open our presents by ourselves or bring them to my parents.  It’s kind of 6 one way 1/2 dozen the other for me.  

After lunch my sister, brother in law & two nephews will arrive at my parent’s house.  I’m so excited to see all of them & squeeze that little baby! 

I have a handful of presents left to wrap and a few last minute stocking stuffers to pick up.  Are you ready for the weekend?  


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Decorations around the House

by KT on December 21, 2011

I missed most of the link ups last week for decorating.  I showed you our tree and our exterior illuminations, but I thought I’d show you what the inside looks like.

This is my baker’s rack.  I just sort of fill it in with ornaments,  santas and angels.  I love the tartan tablecloth on my kitchen table & I leave that wreath on my laundry room door up well into January! 

Here’s a better picture of my table.  I fill the Juliska bowl that sits on that table year round with ornaments too.  Those snowmen are candle sticks.  I rarely have candles in any of my candlesticks, because I’m so OCD about them being straight that they end up driving me crazy.  My amaryllis is much bigger now and I THINK will bloom today or tomorrow!  Also, I have a candle (on a timer) in every window in the house.

This year I decided to put our cards on our cabinets.  I actually really like it!  It makes me so happy to see all our friends and family daily!  Our cabinets are almost totally full now, so I might have to put overflow on the fridge.  

The little train set that says “Noel” was REF’s when he was a kid.  We don’t have much from when he was a kid so I’m glad to have this!

My favorite aunt made this nativity scene when she was a teenager.   The cleaning ladies were at the house shortly after I had put this up and they moved baby Jesus next to the donkey.  The moment that I walked in the door from work I noticed it.  It just looked “off”.

REF’s mom and grandma gave me the angels that are on top of the china cabinet the first year we were dating.  I also have white lights up there too that look great at night.  I don’t do much to the cabinet, but I added some red glass wine glasses this year & I think they add a festive touch.

PS – Please do not judge me on the super ugly window coverings throughout the house (in particular this one that looks like a circus tent). they were here when we moved in & I haven’t settled on anything else.

This santa is right when you come into the front hall of our house.  My mom found him at a yard sale & thought we’d like having him.  He has seen better days, but I think it fun to have him greet our guest.

Last is our fireplace & mantle.  REF’s mom needle pointed my stocking and REF’s stocking, but since she’s not a dog lover she refused to make Winston one.  So, this year my mom surprised Winston with his very own stocking.  We didn’t realize his boot was facing the wrong direction! Oh well!  Speaking of REF’s mom she also needle pointed the nativity scene that is on the mantle.  She’s VERY talented & we get a new piece each year.  I think they are my favorite gifts from her.  The santa on the right was a hand me down from MIL and the Santa on the left was a hand me down from my mom.

Our tree has filled up as of last night, because I stayed up until 12:30 wrapping presents.  I have ALMOST everything wrapped.  I still need to get my dad’s Christmas and birthday gifts, but after that I’m FINISHED! 


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Thumbprint Cookies

by KT on December 20, 2011

There are a few things that make me think “Christmas”.  One of those is making Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies.   My mom started making these several years ago, but they aren’t something I remember having around as a kid.  They are a favorite of REF’s and they are definitely a labor of love.

The recipe is from Land O’ Lakes. You know they have to be good if the recipe is from a butter company.

There aren’t many ingredients, but there quite a few steps so you’ll need to allow yourself some time.  

First cream the butter and sugar together.

Then slowly add the flour.

Mix until your dough looks like this…

Then you need to refrigerate this for at least an hour.  If you’re really organized you can make the dough ahead of time, then keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to actually prep and bake.  If you’re like me…you just need to wait around for the hour.

Next you’ll need to roll the dough into small balls  (Getyourmindoutofthegutter).  I didn’t take pictures of the ball phase.  My hands were really buttery and my assistant is the furry four legged kind.

After you roll them all out, place them on a cookie sheet & press your thumb into them to create a “well” for the raspberry.  If you have large thumbs (ahem) you can also use the back of a teaspoon.

Then fill up each well with a 1/2 a teaspoon of preserves. 

Now, a sweet older lady at my office brought me homemade preserves to use.  For some reason they didn’t really work for this project.  I think you really need to use something from the store.

Next you bake the cookies for at 350 for about 15-18 minutes.  You just want the edges to be golden brown.  After the cookies cool you put the glaze on!  This is REF’s favorite part.

You’ll want the glaze consistency to look something like this: 

If you mess up and add too much water, just add more powdered sugar.  Easy Peasy.

Then you just sprinkle the glaze on the cookies…

Don’t they look AWESOME?!

I package them up in small bags or boxes (about 6 cookies) to give to friends.  Last year I used some of our duogram stickers on the bags, but this year I’m skipping that step.

I also have to bring a BIG batch to my office Christmas party on Friday.  I made the mistake of one year bringing a small tin of them.  I thought the ladies in the office were going to skin me for bringing such a small batch. Lesson Learned … homemade preserves received. 

What tasty treats are you baking this season?















by KT on December 19, 2011

With less then a week to Christmas I’m JUST starting to feel like it is finally the holidays.  Friday night I had some plans with girlfriends that got rescheduled to next Thursday so I actually had a “free” evening.  We ordered take out, REF played on the computer and I watched Christmas movies on Netflix.  It was actually just what I needed.

Saturday I spend the day finishing up my shopping.  Then I got home and realized I forgot to pick up my MIL’s Christmas gift.  She has a birthday in December & I always forget to get TWO gifts for her.  She’s actually hard to shop for so maybe I just put it off! Oh well, I’ll be heading back to the mall this week to get her gift.  Maybe it will just be a bunch of men there so I can zip in and out.  Wishful thinking? Probably.

Saturday night REF and I headed to our friend’s house for dinner.  We were actually quite shocked to be invited to this couple’s house.  They aren’t the best at reciprocating hospitality.  They are our dear friends, but I just don’t think that type of thing crosses their mind.  We had nice dinner and I got home before it was too late…which is my kind of dinner party.

Sunday we had a busy, but fun day.  We headed to Concord for lunch with REF’s mom, Grandma, Aunt & Cousin.  After lunch we all went to see REF’s niece in The Nutcracker!  She is a member of a Kannapolis dance troupe & every year they do The Nutcracker with the Salisbury Symphony.  It is quite beautiful, but a bit of drive for REF and me.

Abby was a mouse and a gum drop this year.  It was great to be able to see her more then once.  In years past she’s had smaller roles so we didn’t get to see her too much.  I hope that she continues with dance through out the years, because I do like seeing this performance year after year.

I do not know who the creeper is in the background.  :)

After the performance we raced home, I changed my clothes and hopped back in the car to head over to Rachel’s house for a (I hope) annual blogger ornament exchange!  I had such a nice time and finally got to meet some folks who I’ve “talked” to for over 6 months!  It really got me in the Christmas spirit.  i got the cutest ornament and had a chance to really catch up with people.  

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home for both the nutcracker and the ornament exchange.  Hopefully, folks will email out the pictures they took so that I can post them!  



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Christmas Decorations

by KT on December 13, 2011

When I first married REF our Christmas decorations were in my standard cute and sufficient, but REF grew up in a household where his family went “all out” for the holiday.  He still talks about how our first Christmas decorations were a bit sparse.  Looking back, they really were pretty pitiful.  Our tree was quite the “Charlie Brown” tree.

Since that first Christmas I’ve been snatching up decorations when I saw them on sale.  I’ve also started decorating earlier in the year so that I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed the responsibilities of decorating.  

I’m actually quite proud of our exterior illuminations which I did all by myself a little bit wine drunk at 10pm on Thanksgiving.  Don’t judge…I wanted to be able to relax on Friday.

If you remember from this post I talked about our village.   My in laws have had the tradition of setting up these villages for years.  While they are new to me  I think they do help you get in the Christmas spirit.  This was the first year that I set up the lights inside of the houses.  While I didn’t do THE BEST job, I can admit that I’m “into it” now. 


Please ignore both my bad photography & the crooked tablecloth.  I’ve fixed the tablecloth, but I can’t figure out how to take pictures in the dark.  Anyone have tips for this?

Now, with my new love of these Christmas villages I can promise that my love will never grow so large that my collection is as large as my father in law’s village.

Yes, that is a two tiered working train that goes through the village.  It stresses me out just looking at it.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of our Christmas tree.  I hate being wrong and even more I hate admitting when I’m wrong, but I have to admit that I should have listened to REF when he told me to wait to string the lights on the tree.  I didn’t wait & I did it wrong.  I don’t really want to get into it too much, but REF was kind enough to just laugh at me & to un-string and then re-string all the lights while I was shopping with Rachel & Erin.  I’ve got a good man on my hand folks.

Our tree isn’t the fanciest tree, but I like the hodge podge look of our tree.  The tree skirt was made by my dad’s mother and I think I will always use it, because it makes me think of her every year when I pull it out of the attic.  

Merry Christmas, y’all!






Heavy Topic…

by KT on December 12, 2011


I have fairly big eyes and I tend to show my feelings through them.  I also have very long, straight and blond eyelashes.  This always poses a mystery for both myself, a novice make up artist  user, & for real professional make up artists.

So, I’m constantly looking for mascara that doesn’t make me look like a fool. 

This summer on Twitter there was some buzz about Benefits’ They’re Real mascara.  I decided to pick it up.  I ended up LOVING it.  I had never bought any mascara other then drugstore stuff, so I was a little irritated spending the extra money, but it was well worth it.  I thought it worked well to both curl and define my lashes without making me look too ridiculous.   The one problem for me with this stuff was that it was incredibly hard to remove.  I had to use eye make up remover, cold cream and face soap to get it off & I still felt like there was some left.   

Photo from Benefit Cosmetics Website

Since I was SO pleased with this purchase I decided I would try the CULT mascara, Dior Show.  My friends have been telling me to try this for years, but I was a bit nervous it would overpower my eyes.  Since my first fancy mascara experience went so well I figured this mascara that folks had raved about for years must be the real deal.

Photo From Dior Website

How did it work?  Well, it’s pretty good, but I have to say that the Benefit product wins this battle.  While the Dior is easier to remove I don’t feel that it defined my lashes at all.  I also found that my lashes stuck together which was a major bummer.  Now, of course I’m using this stuff until it is 100% gone, because at $24.50 I have to, but I think my new favorite is going to be Benefits, They’re Real.

Now, just for fun here are some more big and expressive eye pictures for you…

What’s your favorite mascara & why?


I was not compensated for this post.  The opinions are mine & mine alone.




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Scenes from Marriage

by KT on December 10, 2011

Funny Guy…

REF: Social Media and texting have crippled the writing ability of the generation behind us.

ME: ::

REF: By the way, if I ever write you on skype and say TTYL that means talk to you later.

ME: ::



Fall Trip

by KT on December 9, 2011

I’m still catching up and while I know that we are well into the Christmas season I wanted to document a trip REF and I took up to visit my sister and Charlie.

My sister and brother in law live in an old historic mill village.  There were lots of these sprinkled around NC to help with the textile industry that was so dominate at the turn of the century.  A lot of the villages have been lost, but some have been saved by historic preservationists and the state.  Elizabeth and Noah rebuilt the majority of their approximately 130 year old home with their own two hands.

Here is a before and after picture.  Pretty amazing huh?  This after was taken about 6 years ago.  It actually looks quite different now too.

Anyhow, REF and I went up after work on a Friday and made it to my sister’s house in time for dinner. Unfortunately, we missed my brother in law who was headed to Asheville for the weekend.  We had raclette & it was delicious. What’s not to like a melted cheese, potatoes and meat?

The next morning while Elizabeth and I took showers and changed REF watched little Charlie.

After we were all packed and ready the four of us headed out to town Holiday Parade.  I actually didn’t take any pictures, but it was really fun!  We wanted to see my sister’s neighbor’s children on the local CoOp float.  After that we enjoy a treat at the local hotdog restaurant & then back to the house.

My sister and I headed out for a walk while REF stayed back to watch football.  I wanted to “wear” Charlie.  He isn’t too heavy, but boy to you get hot “wearing” a human strapped to you.

I made my sister take some artsy pictures of Charlie and me.

After the walk we met back up with REF and headed out to Mellow Mushroom for an early dinner and to watch the WFU football game on TV.  We then stopped at the CoOp for dessert.  My mom said it sounded like all we did was eat…she might have been right.

That evening I helped Elizabeth give Charlie a bath before his bedtime.

I think he actually really likes the bath.

After Charlie went to bed REF watched more football and my sister I watch a handful of documentaries.  This has sort of become a tradition for whenever I visit with her.  It’s nice to be able to watch the artsy ones that my brother in law & REF don’t care for with someone.

The next morning REF went out to get everyone breakfast & we decided to put Charlie in his bumbo seat.  He doesn’t quite fits, but he smiled a bunch for us anyway.

I took about a 1000 pictures of this same pose.   I just love that he is looking at his mommy and smiling.





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